National Portrait Gallery specialists to restore historic York paintings – and you can watch them at work

28 Mar 2017 @ 9.48 pm
| Entertainment, History

There’s a rare chance to see specialist painting conservators at work this week.

Beningbrough Hall

Tues Mar 28-Thurs Mar 30 from noon-5pm


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A team of conservators from the National Portrait Gallery are cleaning and restoring on the Kit-cat club paintings displayed at Beningbrough Hall, Gallery and Gardens.

The set of 43 Kit-cat club portraits were gifted entire to the National Portrait Gallery in 1945 to mark the end of the Second World War. Nineteen of these have been on display at Beningbrough Hall since 1979.

Filling the cracks

During the afternoons of Tuesday March 28 till Thursday 30 March, visitors to the National Trust hall can come and see the work as it’s carried out in a setting contemporary to the creation of the paintings.

The portraits were painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller over the period 1697-1721. Their location in the dining room at Beningbrough is especially appropriate for a club that was named after the mutton pies on which they feasted.

The paintings are found in the dining room

Through the week, the specialists will be de-installing and un-framing the works to allow for full access to the paintings and frames.

The paintings are displayed unglazed, as they would have been originally. For this reason the National Portrait Gallery carefully monitors the paintings and their environment and undertakes regular condition checks.

It’s a rare chance to see this specialist work

Where necessary, small age cracks will be consolidated and any debris that can compromise the paint layer or gilt frame will be carefully removed. The paintings and the frames will be carefully documented with diagrams and photography so that future changes can be monitored.

It’s a rare opportunity to see such specialist work taking place on a part of the national collection in Yorkshire.